The Terrifying Cost of Feeling Safer

The terrifying cost of feeling safer:

“Transnational terrorism across the world leads to an average of 420 deaths a year. With a global population of 6.6 billion, that’s not a big risk. The chance of being killed in a road accident is very much higher… Even the chance of contracting HIV/AIDS would be much higher.”

Ross Gittins points out how much we’re spending to “combat” the emepheral threat of terrorism, and the missed opportunity cost of spending this money on something useful instead.


PSPBook for Mac OSX

This is what you might call a targeted post – if you (a) own a PSP and (b) own a Mac and (c) want to read text files formatted as images on the PSP… well, have I got the program for you :D

A friend (Kelson) told me about how he had a program for Windows that would take a text file as input and spit out images formatted for the PC. I thought, you beauty, now I can read classics on my PSP instead of having to go to the library or buying them. I googled around, expecting only Windows versions, but stumbled upon a little program called PSPBook.

Or rather, frustratingly, links to a program called PSPBook. Links that didn’t work any more, as the creator had apparently moved on and not left any copies around.

Further searching ended up finding the source for it, and what else is a good coder to do than to pick up an abandoned project :D A little bit of tweaking here and there, and we have the following: PSPBook 1.0.3b1.

What this does is get you to select a text file, lay it out in a space that corresponds to the PSP screen, and dump that to a file. Unfortunately, it goes about things in what I consider a clunky way, but it does appear to be a limitation of Apple’s frameworks, unless you really want to rewrite from the ground up (i.e. use CoreText APIs).

You can then copy the files over to your PSP and browse at your lesuire. The program also allows you to tweak the appearance of the text that you’ll be reading. Exporting is a breeze, and that’s about the sum of it :D

This is my first foray into Mac programming, and most of the work was done for me already, with minimal impact from yours truly. It should be a universal binary, though it’s only been tested on a 10.5 Intel, since that’s all I’ve got at home.

The original code was licensed under the BSD license – I’m not a lawyer, but I hope it allows someone to pick up the code should it be available and abandoned. In any case, the original author has been left as the copyright holder, but I’m operating on more of a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license here (do click through there if you’re not sure of Creative Commons).

The app and code is hosted on Google Code, should anyone else feel intrigued enough to pull up XCode and have a poke around (more than welcome to fix bugs, mine or existing!). The previous version is also available, via the repository, should anyone feel like i’ve botched things.

Kudos to Apple for including such a decent set of tools with their OSes – little wonder there’s so much good Mac appery out there.

the daily column

A Personal Post

Haven’t had one of these in a while, so I thought I’d fill you in on the excitement that’s been happening lately.

I got a MacBook Pro.


Er…. *scratches head*

Yes, that is just about it. I really, really got nothing. I can’t even say “settling back in to Sydney” because now it’s been nigh on 6 months and I have no excuses. The scary part is that it’s well over a year since I was over in London (I feel like I’ve mentioned this before…). Work continues apace – it’s been a bit nutso lately, as the pressures mount on time and my abilities, but somewhat like assignments at uni I’ve been managing to scrape in at the last minute.

This will catch up to me, one day. Today is not that day, and neither will Monday be. Tuesday, not so sure.

The other thing fun about work is that we’re now regularly playing cards, in a misguided attempt to forget the views we lost. We’re playing 500 at lunch, a game I’d never heard of before, but allegedly it’s “the most popular card game in Australia” (Wikipedia) – go figure. It makes up for a lot when you have people at work that don’t just clock-in-clock-out on the friendship.

On every other front, things are on the boringly staid side of normal. There are some that are vicariously stupendously complicated and unable to be discussed in public. These things I’d love to have a rant about, things I’d love to talk through, but being of sensitive nature to others, it would be insensitive to discuss with y’all, probably even in private.

(and before you get too excited, let me remind you of the meaning of ‘vicarious’)

So in summary, just your stock standard old life. Better luck next week? :)

the daily column

Card Game: Sweep (a.k.a. Seep)

This is an Indian card game that looks a lot like a variant of an Italian game, Scopa, but the influence could easily be the other way around. Note this is also commonly known as ‘seep’, but our family’s theory is that it’s a bastardised version of ‘sweep’.

the daily column

In the event of a… well

I live just beyond a stone’s throw from Sydney’s biggest army barracks/training area, Holsworthy, and occasionally they do training exercises which are a little… loud. Like this morning, when someone decided a bright idea would be to have a heavy munitions drill within window-rattling distance of the residential areas.

Goooooooooooood morning Holsworthy! Hope you enjoy the sound of multi-inch shells blowing up bits of the countryside while you’re having your corn flakes.

Having recently read Tomorrow, When the War Began, I wonder whether I’m being a little paranoid in considering whether, in the event of an invasion, I would be first to know (since it’s the army barracks after all), or the last to know (since these things go on all the time).

It’s one of those things you’d like to know, ideally.


LHC Final Stages

I probably link to the The Big Picture blog once a week, but the photos are spectacular – this week, it’s the Large Hadron Collider construction reaching its final stages. If there was ever something that screamed “mad scientists at work”, it’s the LHC. Speaking of which, you have 5 days (and counting) to say your prayers that it’s not going to generate a supermassive black hole. Enjoy! :)